Mole Amarillo – Not the one with chocolate!

Fall and winter are perfect seasons to make moles. These renowned labour-intensive stews of Mexico, especially Oaxaca state, are slow-cooked, healing dishes infused with earthy chilies and herbs. While mole poblano – the one with the chocolate – gets bandied about ad nauseum where I live – other moles from the family are passed over. And that’s a shame.

Mole amarillo, or yellow mole, finds herbs, tomatillos, chilie guajillos and broth as a base over stewed meat – I find pork or chicken the best – along with potatoes, green beans and chayote (vegetable pear). Deep bowls of this delicious stew are served topped with lightly pickled roasted green chilies and onions, and lots of hot corn tortillas.
The process of making moles can be daunting, but this is one of the easiest for first timers.

Roasting and toasting – even charring – of ingredients is a major feature of moles and usually starts with roasting garlic and onions.
Rajas (or strips) of roasted green chilies is the name of the dish consisting of pickled chilies and onion used to top this particular mole. I use anaheims chilies. (If you’re somewhere where you can buy chile de agua use those, although they’re ripping hot).

Blister the chilies evenly via a comal or this cast iron flatsie I found in an East Indian market. Once blistered, transfer to a plastic bag or bowl to sweat a bit and cool down enough to handle.
Peel, then sliced down the middle, remove the seeds and inner membrane, and slice into lengthwise pieces.

Add thinly sliced white onion to match the amount of sliced chilies, add freshly squeezed lime juice, salt and a hit of Mexican oregano. Cover and let meld together in the fridge. This usually takes at least four hours.
Keep going.
This recipe from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking requires 12 chilie guajillos. Other recipes request other varieties mixed with the guajillos, but these are most likely the easiest to procure. Look for chilies with smooth skin, evenly coloured and still pliable. The texture is like fruit leather.
Remove the stems, seeds and inner membranes and get ready to toast. I find it easier to toast the pieces when they are cut into halves, but you must find your own way.
Toast each side until they become tobacco-coloured. See how the skin colour is changing? Look!
Rinse quickly under cold water to stop the cooking, and soak all the toasted chilie pieces in hot water for about 20 minutes. This softens the guajillo’s tough skin, making it easier to blend smoothly.
Take a look at your mise en place.
Cumin, allspice, cloves and Mexican oregano are the herbs. The chilies are soaking. The roasted onion and garlic sit ready. Chayote, potatoes and beans are ready to be prepped.
Whether you use pork ribs (country-style) or chicken, partially cook them by poaching in water – just enough to cover – onion and garlic. Reserve the stock for your mole sauce.
The herbs, chilies, chile soaking water (poured through a sieve), tomatillos, garlic and onion are blended to a smooth puree in the blender. Not the food processor!
The mix is then fried in either lard (muy autentico!) or olive oil, while you scrap and stir the bottom of the pan, making sure it does not burn. ( You will most likely have to wash down the kitchen walls and yourself, too. If this is your first mole, I call it the baptism of fire).
Broth is added, simmered. A blend of masa harina and broth is added to thicken. Par-boiled quartered potatoes, peeled and sliced chayote and green beans are added along with the pork.
Simmer and adjust the salt. Holy Mole!

Serve topped with rajas. You are now very popular.
Note on chayote: It’s generally smooth skinned but there is another variety with prickly-like hairs sticking out all over it. Don’t be alarmed, you have to peel it anyway. And the seed is edible. Just slice through.

One Response to “Mole Amarillo – Not the one with chocolate!”

  1. thank you so much for this recipe. i love these deep flavored, slow cooking recipes. very detailed with all the picks.

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